Conducting competency based interviews

Conducting competency based interviews

Brainteaser interview questions offer no real insight into a job applicant and instead make the interviewee feel uncomfortable. Competency based interviews are the tried and tested format, particularly if you don't interview candidates every day, and employers are shifting back to this style of interviewing.

This follows the admission by Google’s Senior Vice President of People Operations that the company’s famous brainteaser interview questions didn’t work and would no longer be part of their interview process.

Employers have used brainteaser questions to make their company stand out, rather than test the suitability of a candidate. Interviews should be as objective as possible and these brainteaser questions introduce too much scope for subjectivity.

Instead we suggest employers use competency or behavioural interview techniques. A behavioural interview attempts to predict future behaviour based on past behaviour in a similar situation. Behavioural questions often being with, ‘Tell me about a time when …’ or ‘Describe an occasion when …’

Questions are asked to establish various core competencies relevant to the role, such as teamwork, creativity and innovation, decision making ability, business awareness or conflict resolution.

The interviewer should look for examples of past behaviour that demonstrate these competencies. This type of interview is fairer, more transparent and can help organisations reduce the chance of making costly hiring mistakes.

Common behavioural interview questions include:

• Give me an example of when attention to detail was vital and how you completed the task accurately
• Describe something you have done that was new for your organisation that improved the performance of your team or the value of the work done
• Talk me through a time when you have had to work towards a challenging, ambitious objective
• Tell me about a time you had too many things to do and you needed to prioritise your tasks. How did you manage your time and objectives?
• What is your typical way of dealing with conflict? Give me an example of when you have had to use this approach with a difficult customer
• Tell me about a situation where you have been part of a group working toward a specific goal. What was your role in the group?
• Describe how you led a team through a difficult project. How did you improve their work?
• On time pressured assignments, how have you made sure that the job is done within budget?


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